SCOTLAND’S Airbnb boom is forcing people out of their homes as unscrupulous landlords use weak laws to turn their properties into short-term holiday lets, an MSP has claimed.

In a new research paper, due to be published today, Green politician Andy Wightman has called on the Scottish Government to explore better regulation and legislation of the holiday home market.

Wightman’s Home First campaign says that in Edinburgh alone, the latest figures show at least 5,474 whole properties available for short term let.

While often a quick earner for the landlords, many of whom own multiple properties, testimonies collected by the campaign suggest it’s having a hellish impact on neighbours.

Wightman says he has one constituent who is now “the last permanent resident in his stairwell.”

That man has decided to sell up and leave his property due to ”increased feelings of isolation and frustration brought on by short-term lets.”

He also reports of an elderly couple feeling increasingly insecure in their home as the neighbouring flat brings in a reported 120 visitors a year as a short-term let.

Other experiences include a young couple and their small child being threatened late at night by drunken occupants of a short-term let following a noise complaint, and a student failing a secondary school exam because of the stress and anxiety caused the night before by occupants in a neighbouring short-term let.

In Edinburgh, 41 complaints were made about short-term lets, but most took about a year to be investigated.

Wightman alleges that consortiums of investors are regularly out-bidding families for residential properties and then converting them into short-term lets whilst flouting both planning permission and the title deeds that prohibit a change of use for business purposes.

Under the current law, a domestic property cannot, for example, be turned into a cafe without applying for a change in use and consent being granted. However, there is little to stop someone who owns a flat changing its use from residential to holiday home; no consent is needed, nor is approval from neighbours.

Wightman MSP said it was time for a change.

“The rapid rise in short-term lets is starting to undermine the basic human right to housing,” he said. “Since I first raised this issue in Parliament in January of this year, I have been inundated by people throughout Scotland who have serious concerns about the impact on their communities.

“There is now a staggering number of residential homes that are now effectively being markets as hotels with no planning permission, no safety regulations and no regard to families living in close proximity to them. This adds further pressure on local housing markets, and deprives local councils of income from the non-domestic rates businesses are supposed to pay.

“These are vital funds that could pay for local community facilities and services including schools, libraries and social care. The current system is fundamentally flawed.

“Undoubtedly short-term lets are here to stay but with effective legislation in place, communities can co-exist with this form of letting to ensure that more homes are not lost to greedy speculators.”